Red

2018 Vine Hill Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon VHR

Cabernet Sauvignon

  • USA
  • California
  • Napa Valley
  • Oakville

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Community Tasting Note

  • csimm1161 wrote: 97 points

    April 30, 2021 - 3 days in Napa: Arkenstone, Memento Mori, Maxem, The French Laundry, Christopher Tynan, Kinsman, Harlan, Vice Versa, Accendo, Fairchild, Macdonald, and a truckload of others (Napa): Young, driven, and really, really determined in its energy and thrust, this wine was off to the racetracks with a super thrilling acidic frame that was spinning its essences in the mouth with so much vibration that I had trouble pinning down the specific flavors at first. Red and black cherry, cassis, red raspberry, purple licorice (I always wonder if there really is such a thing), and unripe plum skin. There is an herbal/stem hit that whips up and snaps its energy into the core fruit, electrifying it even further. With air (decanted), it began to unfold beautifully, but it never lost some of its steroidal jittering of multiplicative flavor jumping. I dig it. As with many of these wines, the VHR needs a great deal of time. Drink it now if you wanna spaz out for fun (I mean, it’s super delicious), or best to wait 7+ years to see what sorts of cultured nuances can be gleaned in the future.

    7 people found this helpful 4,624 views

26 Comments

  • bsumoba commented:

    4/30/21, 6:17 PM - I agree with everything you said about this wine. VHR might be my new Eisele, or is it that I'm simply following FP as she plows her way to becoming one of the great winemakers out of Napa.

    I will not be opening another bottle for about 5 years, but it is hard to keep my hands off it when I go into the cellar. Maybe I do need an offsite storage facility so I don't accidentally open one up during a dinner.

  • csimm1161 commented:

    4/30/21, 10:15 PM - It’s soooo tough to keep my hands off of these awesome wines. I always do some sort of last minute pull from the cellar and wish I had waited longer. This is a great wine and showed exceptionally well given its youth, but I would definitely wait if you can muster up the patience. There is so much great stuffing here that just needs a little cellar time.

  • MJP Hou TX commented:

    5/1/21, 6:41 AM - Great notes CSIMM. You had Cristal both had solid stuff to write about A&B Vine Hill 18. I've already picked up MM Vine Hill so might as well pick these up too. Maybe have a flight of 18 one day. MJP

  • bsumoba commented:

    5/1/21, 7:04 AM - MJP...make sure to at least get a Tor VHR too to throw in the lineup. Now, I'll be looking for a bottle or two of the A&B as well.

  • MJP Hou TX commented:

    5/1/21, 7:57 AM - I've thought about grabbing a TOR 18 and think I'll do so on a secondary market. 18 is a volume vintage so trying to be smart about how much DTC I want to take down early.

  • csimm1161 commented:

    5/1/21, 8:28 AM - That would be a great blind tasting to do! Good call on aftermarket for 2018 on some wines. TOR has historically been available for better prices generally outside of DTC, which is always kind of a weird thing to me.

  • bsumoba commented:

    5/2/21, 1:57 PM - I found my Tor 18' for $160. I thought that was a very good price...I will be opening up one in the next couple weeks.

  • MJP Hou TX commented:

    5/3/21, 7:23 AM - Assuming Tor Vine Hill 18 for $160? Great find. I need the source!?

  • bsumoba commented:

    5/3/21, 8:29 AM - MJP - Source was Belmont Wine, but I snatched up all the bottles they had for me and my buddy. Haven't found anything cheaper than $200 since.

  • vintage1949 commented:

    5/26/21, 2:26 AM - Greetings CSIMM1161 and others posting here,
    How strong is the herbal taste in the wine? I dislike a strong presence of this aspect in a Cabernet Sauvignon. For my palate a herbal taste becomes a-new word here-viney taste as the wine opens. Do all vintages of VHR carry this flavor? Concerning cellar time. Since I am 71 I cannot wait forever for wines-would two years in the cellar be sufficient? Dave

  • csimm1161 commented:

    5/26/21, 6:16 AM - This bottle started out a little stemmy at first but moved quickly into a nice unfolding of flavor. Still, it was pretty punchy. I think these wines ideally need more than two years in the cellar.

  • bsumoba commented:

    5/26/21, 8:27 AM - I agree on letting it age in bottle a couple more years. I have 4 more bottles and will be opening up one in maybe 5, then 10, then 15, then 20 years.

    I've seen a lot of "good" deals on older vintages of VHR in auction and would probably go that route instead of buying newer vintages, even though they are tempting given the TN of barrel samples or upon release and critic reviews.

  • vintage1949 commented:

    5/29/21, 7:50 AM - Hey CSIMM,
    Thanks for the info. If the stemmy issue resolved itself then no problem. Dave

  • vintage1949 commented:

    5/29/21, 8:03 AM - Hi BSUMOBA,
    Yep I cannot have a drinking timeline as you mentioned unless I make it to my 90’s. Grin You hit it on the head. It is great fun buying new vintages especially with all the reviews. And I just love wine delivered in three and four packs with a wooden case. But many CTer’s responded as you have to look for and buy older vintages. Oh what to do what to do. Maybe a little of both. What do you think of that? Dave

  • MJP Hou TX commented:

    9/9/21, 6:49 AM - Csimm, was this a bottle you guys spent several days with or was it taken down in the company of Bruce in one sitting? Also, any notes on 18 extended age?

  • csimm1161 commented:

    9/9/21, 7:46 AM - This wine was followed over the course of the afternoon and into the full evening. Obviously with air it grew in depth and complexity but I personally did not sample it on a second day, which I imagine might even be better. Unfortunately I don’t have any reference beyond this bottle for 2018 Vine Hill. Honestly the only rub for me on this wine was when the initial price hike came a number of years ago it was pretty offputting. I suppose I just need to get over it because the wine of course is solid.

  • MJP Hou TX commented:

    9/10/21, 9:01 AM - Agreed. Some of these price hikes are pretty hefty. Then again so it lost revenue from 2020 which trickles to the consumer.

  • csimm1161 commented:

    9/10/21, 9:06 AM - The consumer gets hit with all of it. The plight of luxury wine collecting I suppose lol.

  • vintage1949 commented:

    9/13/21, 8:13 AM - Hey CSIMM,
    Because my health has deteriorated further I cannot pour wine for friends as often as before. So I have to be very selective in the wines that I buy. I am not buying that much wine but would like to get the really good ones that I bought in the past. From reading your post this wine (2019) sounds like a safe bet. Is that the case? How long do you think it will be before this one is ready to drink? Please note I am thinking of buying 2 three packs. Dave

  • csimm1161 commented:

    9/13/21, 8:49 AM - Dave. These VHR wines are very compelling young, but their optimum drinking window is going to typically be 5-7+ years out (ideally more like a decade from vintage). Depends on your tolerance for acidity and backbone, but it's fairly primary for quite some time. If you're looking for early consumption big Napa Cabernet, you might want to look at some of the other more extracted houses. My 2 cents.

  • MJP Hou TX commented:

    9/13/21, 7:24 PM - I second Csimm's drinking window. I'd bet 19 will be more approachable early. It releases Feb 2022.

    Dave, I enjoy reading your post and your thoughtful questions. Take good care of yourself and I look forward to reading your post.

  • vintage1949 commented:

    9/18/21, 4:56 AM - Hi Csimm ,jmp, and others,

    Questions on two issues,
    I read in tasting notes, sometimes interchangeably two different terms-stemmy and herbal. What if any is the difference between the two? Does one taste last longer than the other? If I have my act together (very debatable) regarding tasting wines, to me there is a big difference between the two. One aspect I personally enjoy at the correct concentration the other one for me is a deterrent. Interested in your comments.

    The other question is not specifically a wine question. This week I have been invited to four dinner parties. It looks like I will now have to use a walker. I am hoping to use the walker just to the front door and then use a cane. Is using a walker with tennis balls really off putting and could it scratch wood floors? I am thinking the best scenario is walker to door then cane. I think I could move around better for visiting with a cane. Your honest thoughts. Dave

  • csimm1161 commented:

    9/18/21, 9:03 AM - #1 To me, stems or stemmy is related to notes of bark, wood (not oak treatment), and sometimes bitterness (not necessarily a bad thing, as it can create tension on a heavy fruited or ripe wine). It can be kind of "green" at times, but herbal is more about pyrazine in reds. In whites it can mean herbs like in a Sauvignon Blanc (tarragon, oregano, basil).

    #2 I say do whatever is most comfortable for you and what is best for easy mobility.

  • vintage1949 commented:

    9/19/21, 5:27 AM - Hi Csimm,
    Wow you do have a vast knowledge of wine. Would you consider a herbal nose and flavors in red wine a bad thing ot just another aspect of red wine? (Will go to the party in a comfortable manner. Dave

  • csimm1161 commented:

    9/19/21, 8:31 AM - Depends on the context of the profile of each wine. Some traditionalists will tell you any green note in Cabernet Sauvignon, for example, is a bad thing and means pyrazines have entered the wine. The more skin and stem contact you have, the more the perception of “green” pyrazines can occur.

    Anyway, for me, the green bell pepper note it can produce can be very off-putting, but I don’t think saying all green or stem notes are bad necessarily as a broad brush statement. Some subtle/tertiary notes such as green peppercorn, eucalyptus, pine needles, bark, etc can be complimentary to a red wine and an expression of the terroir. So... it depends.

  • vintage1949 commented:

    9/21/21, 1:18 AM - As always excellent answer Csimm. I also hate bell pepper in reds. Now give me some, as you state, secondary notes that give just a touch of flavor and for my taste the wine will be fine. Dave

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